Planning Consent Granted – Epping Forest

After 2 years, eight different layouts, numerous pre-application meetings and a Design Quality Review Panel we finally achieved Planning consent for 62 new homes near Epping Forest. The Committee decision was unanimous . The design was described as ‘well balanced and thought through.’

One of my previous posts this year was about the National Design Guide. Having followed its guidance for this project – particularly regarding the analysis into the context of the site – I was surprised that the Design Review Panel were not interested in context. The main concerns were density and cycle routes.

The site is in Essex. Normally, when working in Essex, we are required/encouraged to follow the guidelines in the Essex Design Guide, but not in this case. In fact, we were asked not to use the Essex Design Guide as guidance.

We want to do a good job for our clients as skilfully, efficiently and cost effectively as we possibly can. But the ‘design guidance’ goal posts keep changing.

Over the last two years I have been told countless times by urban design officers and design quality review panels to ‘have a look at Great Kneighton and do something like that’. When I ask them to explain why they want me to do something like Great Kneighton (on the southern fringe of Cambridge), in rural Essex, the answer is always vague or is about the architectural style of the buildings on Great Kneighton. It is never specific or precise and is never about urban design principles – which include CONTEXT.

I do know a bit about Great Kneighton – as author of its Design Code published in 2011.

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